Track of the Day: 'A Fifth of Beethoven' by Walter Murphy

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader sends a classic cover ahead of Saturday night:

I don’t think anyone can argue that Saturday Night Fever isn’t one of the defining albums of the ’70s: Grammy Award for album of the year, 120 weeks on Billboard’s album chart (24 of those weeks at #1),  seven #1 singles. It’s included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as being culturally significant. It’s the album that epitomizes disco for better or worse.

The majority of the songs were original compositions, but two different tracks took familiar classical compositions and “disco-fied” them. “Night on Disco Mountain” is a take on “Night on Bald Mountain” by Mussorgsky (that particular piece had previously undergone the Disney treatment in Fantasia). “A Fifth of Beethoven” took the well-known Beethoven’s Fifth symphony, sped it up, adding a thumping drum track and and turned into a #1 dance track. I kind of wonder what Ludwig would have thought of it all.

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